|Title: Perfect Chemistry |
Author: Simone Elkeles
Genre: High school romance
Summary: On Goodreads
Reviewing: World, structure, characterisation and relationships
Take a good girl and a bad guy, throw them together in chemistry class, and what do you have? Sparks flying left, right and centre! With a tried and tested premise like this, you can't go wrong. Brittany's the perfect girl, in looks, grades and sports. Contrast that with Alex, a member of the Latino Blood gang who is known to dabble in guns, drugs and general badassery. And yet, both characters are more alike than they'd like to believe...
First up is the premise. I found the world building to be great ~ Simone paints two contrasting lives ever so well, and her descriptions are neither too much or too little, just enough for us to finish off the painting ourselves. This is a realistic novel, not sugar-coated in the slightest, and not afraid of dishing out the grit in the world. I can clearly see that there has been a lot of research done to make everything as authentic as it can be ~ be it from the interspersions of Spanish, to the little details of the different lifestyles, to the gang structures and turf wars...and it really does add another level to the story.
In terms of structure, we are told the story from two perspectives: Brittany and Alex. This is great as we get the inside scoop from both angles; how one acts and how the other reacts and the thoughts that accompany them both. Of course though, with a structure like this, it's just insanely obvious that there is no question at all as to whether or not they'll end up together, just how they get there. Which the author manages to convey interestingly enough!
I found both characters to be incredibly likeable, and definitely more real than a lot of other main characters I've come across in the genre. I was worried at first that I wouldn't be able to connect with Brittany, since she's made of riches and has it all (on the outside), but as the novel moved on, there was less focus on the externals and more focus on the internals, which definitely made me empathise with her more. Alex, on the other hand, never came across as badass as he or the author made him out to be ~ if that's intentional then kudos to the author. He had his no nonsense attitude, but his heart was definitely not made of stone from the small snippets of interaction we get with his mother, his brothers and with his best friend Paco, who is such an adorable dorkface!
Finally, onto the juicy bit ~ the heart of the novel, which is the relationship of course! Simone writes the sexual tension so well that I was feeling it all myself ~ all the longing, the increased heartbeats, the frustration of the characters not getting together when I want them to... Ahh, young love.
Overall, I thought this was a charming read. Whilst it didn't give me the adrenaline rush that other books *cough* Hunger Games *cough* does, I definitely enjoyed the sexual tension between the two leads... ;)